Yes, you read that right. He’s not just better than the perfect body, he’s even better than the perfect perspective of our bodies!
I mean, obviously, here at Compared to Who we want all Christian women to experience the freedom that comes with a healthy body image. But we often forget that Jesus is better than EVERYTHING! Even the good things we might accomplish in this life.
We have to consider the possibility that it might be part of God’s good plan for some of us to struggle with some level of disordered eating, comparison or another body-image related issue until Jesus returns—for his glory and for our good. And we have to believe that his grace is sufficient for us no matter what struggles we face or how often they resurface throughout our lives.
Let’s take a look at what God’s Word has to tell us about this idea of chasing perfection.
In Matthew 5:48 Jesus says in his Sermon on the Mount, “You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Without a doubt, God calls us to holiness. So don’t misunderstand me here. We need perfection in order to have a right relationship with God. We should not choose to be complacent about the sinful state of our hearts. We need to take it seriously, yet we cannot save ourselves—we need a Savior!
To unpack this, we’re going to take a minute to get to a deeper understanding of the perfect righteousness of Jesus and what it means to place our trust in him. We are prone to mess this up and we aren’t the only ones.
The church at Galatia had a similar problem and the Apostle Paul lovingly rebukes them for it. In Galatians 3:3 he rhetorically asks, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Basically, Paul is asking them, if God initiated your faith in Christ, do you really think you’re the one responsible for achieving perfection? Of course not! God sent Jesus to live the perfect life we can never live. And faith in his perfect life, his death and his resurrection not only saves us from eternal damnation, but it imputes righteousness to our very souls.
It is God who then empowers us to walk towards freedom throughout this life and we can rest assured that no matter how often we fail to attain freedom in these sinful bodies and this broken world, we are safe in the Father’s more-than-capable hands. When he looks at the struggling believer, he sees Jesus. This is why Jesus is better than all the good we could ever try to be!
Why We Get Caught Up in Striving for Perfection
So why do we, as Christians, get caught up in striving for perfection? One reason is because we are raised to be self-sufficient and to see weakness as the problem.
From the time we learn to roll over from our bellies to our backs, we are being taught how to do things on our own. And we instinctively crave it.
“Let me do it by MYSELF!” My two year old screams at me. And I smile down at his cute little face and say, “Okay, big boy, YOU do it all by yourself.”
This is our culture. This is how we help little dependent infants turn into self-starting, successful and contributing members of society. Then as adults, the last thing we want is to revert to dependence, on anyone, for anything. (I’ll confess that moving back in with my mom to pay off student loans definitely qualifies as the last thing I wanted to do as I entered my 30s.)
I imagine this is why aging is so difficult. I think of my hard-working, loving and fairly capable 80-year-old grandfather. He is becoming more and more dependent on others as time crawls on and that has been an obviously frustrating situation for both him and those who feel responsible to care for him. No one wants to be a burden. No one wants to rely on someone else. There’s actual fear and shame that comes with that!
It’s like we all agree that we need Jesus to save us, but then as we grow in an understanding of God’s best for us, we start to believe the lie that we should be able to follow the rules on our own. In other words, “we should know better by now!” Sure we needed Jesus to open our eyes to our body image struggles, but now that we see them, we should be able to avoid wrong thinking if we can just try hard enough. We don’t want to be a burden to God or to those around us by continuing to struggle and need help.
But, just because it’s cultural, doesn’t mean it’s theologically sound. I’d submit that for the Christian, complete dependency on Christ is actually the goal. That alone is what we should strive for. And if dependency is our objective, then weakness…well, weakness is our best advantage. For example, struggling through my own body image issues has opened my eyes to how much I need God’s truth to fight against the lies in my head and to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus’ face alone—and this to my eternal benefit! Without those issues, I may not have been able to recognize my own need for a thriving relationship with God and a mind centered on the true Word of God. Without the struggle my life would be less connected to it’s source. Essentially, I’m saying, there’s purpose in the weakness–if nothing else, it keeps us rooted in Christ.
The Apostle Paul himself prayed for God to take away a tormenting messenger of the father of lies and God said no. More specifically, he said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect is weakness.” Paul continues in edification, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) Oh, I long to be likeminded. To see myself and be content with my weaknesses—fully resting in God’s mercy and grace (in Jesus) to cover me and use all things for my good and his glory.
Having a Right View of Your Body is Good…
A perfectly healthy body image–a right view of our body– is a really good thing and let’s encourage one another towards that freedom. But Jesus? Yeah, he’s way better than any achievement, spiritual or otherwise. If we are to be pursuing anything. . .it’s got to be Jesus, regardless of what weaknesses and imperfections may continue to plague us until He takes us home. And when we fix our eyes on him, we will radiate his glory and our hearts will be filled with joy at just how blessed we are—even in the midst of weakness and hardships!
Allyss Flores is on the brink of 30 and enjoys woodworking and the outdoors with her husband and two small kids. She has always loved to read but has recently found a love for writing that would have been nice to have in college! An introvert and encourager by nature, she feels most alive during deep conversations over great or not-so-great coffee. She is very grateful for the opportunity to share her experience with God’s grace, as it has had a profound effect on her own life. Read Allyss’s posts here.